In China,Islam has different names in different historic ages. In Tang Dynasty, it was called “Dashi jiao大食教; and”Tianfang jiao” or “Huihui jiao “ in Ming Dynasty; "Qingzhen Jiao" in Qing Dynasty.And in the beginning of Republic of China, Huijiao (回教Huíjiào) is a traditional Chinese term for Islam. Because the whole ethnic group ofHui Nationality believes in Islam, so literally it’s "the religion of the Hui".However, nowadays, besides Hui people, there are nine minority ethnic groups who believe in Islam, like Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz,Tajik, Uzbek,Tatar,Salar,Dongxiang and Bonan. So, Islam(伊斯兰教yī sī lán jiào) becomes a general name in the mainland of China since 1956.
History of Islam in China
During the Tang Dynasty (AD618—AD907), Islam was first brought into China. The Islamic Prophet Muhammad believed that China was a country full of knowledge, so he encouraged Muslims to "Seek for knowledge even unto China". Then, as a diplomatic envoy, Sa`ad ibn Abi Waqqas was sent into China. But,some scholars conjectured that Islam has already brought into China by some Muslim merchants before this official activity, for commercial communications between powerful regime Tang and Persia happened frequently at that time.For the spreading ways, condiment’s road on the sea and Silk Road are the most important two ways of the day.
Considering situations at that time, most Muslims from Arabic World were businessmen. They lived in port cities, such as Guangzhou and Quanzhou(泉州). Unlike Buddhists, these Merchant Muslims did not do missionary work very actively. On the one hand, they married to local women; on the other hand, many prisoners of wars stayed. Therefore, the population of Chinese Muslims increased gradually. And to the constitution of Chinese ethnic groups, Islam even helped a new race’s formation, which was Hui. In other words, Islam had a continuous interaction with Chinese society.
Development of Islam in China
For more than 1300 year's development, the population of Chinese Musilims reaches to 20,000,000 and most of them belong to al-Hanafiyyah school (哈乃斐学派أبو حنيفة رحمه الله)of the Sunni sect(逊尼派 xùn ní pài, أهل السنة). Small numer ones in Xinjiang belongs to al-Isma'iliyyah school(伊斯玛仪派) of Shiah sect(什叶派shí yè pài ). The appearance of female Imam is the most special thing about Chinese Islam. Many Chinese Muslims make pilgrimages to the Holy city Mekka every year. Founded in Beijing in 1953,Chinese Islamic Association is the main organization of Chinese Islam.
Famous Mosques in China
Like all the Muslims in the world, Chinese Muslims also need Mosques for praying. It is said that there are more than 37,000 mosques all over the country. The following is a list of notable mosques in China:
Phoenix Mosque in Hangzhou(杭州凤凰寺)
Crane Mosque in Yangzhou(扬州仙鹤寺)
Kylin Mosque in Quanzhou(泉州麒麟寺)
Lion Mosque in Guangzhou(广州狮子寺/光塔寺)
Huajuexiang Mosque in Xian(西安化觉巷清真寺)
Aitigaer Mosque in Kashgar (喀什艾提尕大清真寺)
Dongguan Mosque in Xining(西宁东关清真寺)
Nanguan Mosque in Yinchuan(银川南关清真寺)